Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/144

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Lankester
Lankester
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don. In 1853 he became lecturer on anatomy and physiology at the Grosvenor Place School of Medicine, and from that year till 1871 was joint editor of the 'Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science' (until 1868 with George Busk, and from 1869 to 1871 with his son, E. Ray Lankester). He was led to take an active part in the microscopic examination of drinking-waters during the cholera epidemic of 1854, and, in conjunction with Dr. Snow, demonstrated the connection of the celebrated 'Broad Street pump' with that epidemic. In 1855 he edited for the prince consort, at the suggestion of Sir James Clark [q. v.], an important work by William Macgillivray [q. v.] on the 'Natural History of the Dee Side and Braemar;' it was issued for private circulation. In 1856 he published a little book on the 'Aquarium, Fresh Water and Marine.' Alfred Lloyd, the originator of all the great aquaria, publicly attributed his first interest in the subject to a lecture by Lankester. In 1857 he produced a translation of Küchenmeister's important work on 'Animal and Vegetable Parasites of the Human Body' (Sydenham Soc.), and in 1859 was elected president of the Microscopical Society of London. In 1862 he was appointed examiner in botany to the science and art department. He also did much anonymous literary work. He edited the natural history section of both the 'Penny' and the 'English Cyclopædia,' and many editions of the 'Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation.'

Lankester at the same time engaged in a very ardent attempt to spread a knowledge of physiology and the causes of disease among laymen, and in important sanitary investigations. In 1845 he had published a work on 'Natural History of Plants yielding Food,' and in 1851 and 1862 he was a juror in the department of economics of the International Exhibition held in London. In 1858 he succeeded Dr. (now Sir Lyon) Playfair as superintendent of the food collection at South Kensington Museum. He devised methods of rendering the analysis of various kinds of food appreciable by the uninstructed visitor, and gave courses of lectures upon food (printed in 1860), and upon the uses of animals to man in relation to the industry of man (printed in 1861). On his appointment as coroner in 1862, Sir Henry Cole (1808–1882) [q. v.], secretary of the science and art department, terminated his appointment, and, on the opening of the Bethnal Green Museum in 1872, removed the food collection thither.

His services in regard to the cholera of 1854 led in 1856 to his appointment as the first medical officer of health for the parish of St. James, Westminster, a position which he held until his death. In 1859 he wrote, in conjunction with Dr. William Letheby, the article 'Sanitary Science' in the eighth edition of the 'Encyclopædia Britannica,' and not only published his official reports to the vestry of St. James, but initiated a system of leaflets for distribution among the households of the parish, which has since been taken up and carried on by the National Health Society. In 1862, on the death of Thomas Wakley, Lankester was selected by the medical profession as the medical candidate for the post of coroner for Central Middlesex. He was opposed by Mr. (now Sir Charles) Lewis, a solicitor. Lankester was elected after a hard and expensive fight by a majority of forty-seven in a total poll of 10,894, but incurred a debt which weighed him down till his death. He now threw himself entirely into work connected with the public health, and except occasional lectures in ladies' schools and the summer courses at the gardens of the Royal Botanical Society, he abandoned his connection with botany and natural history. He advocated the teaching of physiology in schools, and produced a school manual of 'Health, or Practical Physiology' (1868). For twelve years he was known to the public by the newspaper reports of his inquests. He was condemned by the county financiers, but was approved by the public, for insisting upon proper medical evidence as to the cause of death. He drew attention to the frequency of infanticide, to baby-farming, and the neglect of workhouse infirmaries. His conclusions (sometimes misrepresented by the press) are to be found in his (voluntarily produced) 'Annual Reports,' published from 1866 onwards by the Social Science Association in the 'Journal of Social Science,' which Lankester founded in 1865, and edited until his death.

Lankester died, 30 Oct. 1874, at the age of sixty, from diabetes, after a brief illness. He married, in 1845, Phebe, eldest daughter of Samuel Pope of Highbury (formerly a mill-owner in Manchester). His wife (the authoress of books on British wild flowers, inspired by his teaching) and eight children survived him. His eldest son, Edwin Ray Lankester, born in 1847, is Linacre professor of anatomy at Oxford.

Lankester was above the middle height and portly; his complexion was high-coloured, eyes and hair dark brown. He had a singularly agreeable voice and manner, corresponding to a natural kindness of heart, which rendered it impossible for him to be harsh or unjust. He was a genial public speaker and an admirable lecturer. His chief mental